September 25th, 2016

End of a chapter for readers as cuts bite

End of a chapter for readers as cuts bite End of a chapter for readers as cuts bite
Updated: 10:07 am, May 07, 2015

THE MAJORITY of mobile library services across Redditch have been axed as part of cost cutting measures.

Worcestershire County Council approved the move two days before Christmas, which will see more than 70 per cent of the 30 plus collection points across the borough and the surrounding villages removed, while others will have their stopping times cut.

The move will save the council £100,000 a year towards the £20million to £25million it needs to make annually over the next four years.

The plan sees every stop within three miles of a main library branch removed meaning the service will no longer visit Batchley, Webheath, Headless Cross, Crabbs Cross, Matchborough, Winyates Green, Church Hill, Riverside, Southcrest and Lakeside.

User Wendy Johnson, who lives in Church Hill, is disabled and only able to walk short distances, said she was now effectively cut off from using a library.

“I can’t use the library in the town centre as I can’t get from the car park, I literally can’t walk that far,” she said.

“I’ll have to buy them which I can’t really afford, but it’s not just that it’s the social interaction as well.

“In an area such as Church Hill, which already has areas of social deprivation, this service is needed now more than ever.”

The surrounding areas of Hopwood, Alvechurch, Rowney Green and Ham Green have also been cut.

But the service will still visit Cookhill, New End, Astwood Bank and Feckenham but with reduced stopping times while the number of stops in Inkberrow will be reduced from six to three. It will also visit areas every four to five weeks in future instead of three and the number of vehicles will be slashed from three to one.

A total of 993 people use the mobile library service ever year across Worcestershire. But council chiefs say over the last ten years visits have dropped by 40 per cent, loans are down 35 per cent and the cost to the authority is now £3.11 per visit compared to £1.97 for every visit to an actual library branch. The library at home service is also affected.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, responsible for localism and communities, said they were looking at alternative measures for library at home users such as asking volunteers to deliver books to their home. In other cases help will be provided to visit a library or to download e-books while in some instances the council will pay for a subscription to the RNIB Talking Book Service.

“We have had an extremely high response rate to the consultation and taken every care to ensure that we offer all Library Service at Home customers an alternative way of receiving the service to ensure they do not lose out,” she said.

“We will work with each individual to ensure they can continue to receive the service.”